Abortion remains a highly sensitive issue, regardless of what your view is. It is important that the matter is considered with due care and sensitivity.
I understand that the Irish referendum has undoubtedly reinvigorated debate within Northern Ireland, but it is important to be clear that the referendum was specific to Ireland, where a change to their written constitution requires a referendum. The referendum now allows for legislation amending Ireland’s abortion law to be debated and passed through both Houses of the Oireachtas.
In Northern Ireland there is no constitutional legal block on abortion which could be lifted by the House of Commons. A change in the law on abortion would require the House of Commons to achieve a consensus on a new legal framework for the regulation of abortion in Northern Ireland.
There does not appear to be any consensus amongst the people and politicians in Northern Ireland that their abortion law should be exactly the same as that in Great Britain.
I support the Government’s belief that any future reform in Northern Ireland must be debated and decided by the people of Northern Ireland and their locally-elected politicians. This has been the position of successive Governments, both Conservative and Labour.
The House of Commons should stand ready to act if that consensus is achieved.